Solstice Light

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april 23 2005 (2005-04-23 10:11:48)

Another gray day but at least it's warm. About 43 degrees F and it rained in the night... high winds from yesterday died down, probably about when the rain started. A few days like this and we should start seeing some green. (There are o­nly a couple stubborn strips of dirty snow drift remanants remaining.) -ke

See solstice light web cam.

do April showers bring May flowers? (2005-04-24 09:11:18)

The sun is beating through fog and mist left behind by the night's rain.

The rain is a huge relief after the high winds and, of course, considering the likelihood of sustained and persistent Knik winds this time of year. The rain, obviously, "settles the dust" from winter road sanding and past dust storms, it washes the grass of a layer of dried, gray stringy "snow mold" and other detritus that appears as the snow melts, and gives the birch trees a shiny "just been to the car wash" look. The rain seems to boost the little shoots of new (green!) grass, hinting of summer and lawn. (Side comment on lawns: good for picnics but a great time waster, also a way that over-the-top lawn afficionados may expose themselves and their families to toxic, albeit over-the-counter, chemicals; here a big hefty lawnmower helps keep the forest at bay. If your house is next to the forest, just stop mowing it for 2 years and it will be a willow thicket, 4 more years and it will be a mass of birch bio-mass.) *Look close at this web cam image and you'll see the hint of green, slightly enhanced by the funky color from the (web) cam settings


jet stream brings high pressure (2005-04-25 11:07:06)

Somehow, the jet stream is headed due north over Alaska, at least according to the map in the newspaper this morning. Spring in Alaska, it's like someone just adds "green" and stirs. One day the ice goes out on the lakes, the next the forests are green. Or just about that quick.

Ice going out on Matanuska Lake (4/24/05).


long days (2005-04-25 23:59:12)

It's only April and there's still light in the sky at 10 pm.

Proof. 10:29 pm April 25 and indeed there is still light* (even in the eastern sky, the direction the web cam faces), and the high reached 67 degrees F. today (with no wind). Hallelujah! Surely spring is here. I saw a robin by Matanuska Lake yesterday and heard a junco. Saw a robin north of here, today.

*Note Alaska is on double daylight saving time so this late daylight wouldn't be nearly as impressive it there was no daylight saving time--it would be this light at 8:29pm. If we were on regular daylight saving time this would be the sun time equivalent of 9:29 pm. So visualize, by mid-June, on double daylight saving time the sun can actually set after midnight! Ouch.


the coming of the green (2005-04-26 09:41:02)

Seriously, over just a few days this landscape will go from tawny to green...

Although in 2000 this patch of ground greened up between May 6 and May 11 (see a bit of web cam history), I think the grass will be green at least 2 weeks earlier this year.

longer days (daylight hours that is) on the way (2005-04-27 00:03:12)

Even in Alaska we're stuck with the 24 hour day but daylight is increasing fast as we head towards solstice. Check the difference between the light in the sky yesterday and today (and today's pic was even taken 3 minutes later).

(To compare this pic to last night's just scroll up if you're already there.)

Sunrise today at 6:05 am, sunset at 9:50 pm and we gained 5 minutes and 38 seconds of daylight since yesterday. Winter darkness be gone!


continue the march towards spring (2005-04-27 10:16:01)

Can you see the green now?

Downy woodpecker is eating at the suet feeder; heard a junco's retro telephone ring call earlier this morning. Pasque flower and mountain buttercups started blooming yesterday (archive photos). Temperature 51 degrees F and not a cloud in the sky.


spring momentum gained (2005-04-28 09:17:07)

Definitely more green grass this morning...

Yesterday we realized the birch along the driveway had leaves roughly squirrel's ear size. In this neighborhood that makes it official. Spring is here. Temperature hit 70 degrees F yesterday.

28 APRIL 2005.........SUNRISE 559 AM SUNSET 958 PM
29 APRIL 2005.........SUNRISE 556 AM SUNSET 1001 PM

[source: National Weather Service]


Summer in April? (2005-04-29 18:24:44)

71 degrees on April 29 -- in Alaska, north of Anchorage!!!

This photo pretty much says it all. There's a little light breeze and it's not too buggy...


another night view (2005-04-29 23:48:43)


green green green!!! (2005-05-01 11:55:16)

This morning's image:

Look close and you can see the new greenish tinge across the birch...

A flourescent green 'cloud' floats across the forest, birch, cottonwood and willow alike. (The landscape trees and shrubs in the foreground -- chokecherry, lilac, and cotoneaster) are slower to accept that it is spring and thus safe to leaf out.) As summer takes hold each of these will have it's own shade of green, texture and level of reflectiveness.

longer days are here again (2005-05-02 08:53:26)

4:56AM and clearly light in the sky:

and really only 6 hours of darkness (see proof)...

The day length stats, according to the National Weather Service are:

2 MAY 2005............SUNRISE 548 AM SUNSET 1009 PM

However, the web cam record suggests we have an additional 2 hours of daylight, that is, only 6 hours of total darkness so we're already into the part of the year where getting 8 hours of sleep in the dark of night is hopeless. Every summer I see houses where people, clearly desparate for sleep, tape aluminum foil over their bedroom windows. I suppose that actually solves two problems, it creates a dark room and it makes it difficult to open the window, thus better blocking the sounds of the rest of the world getting up with the sun (cars and trucks, song birds, stray cats, the local Red Necked Grebe, and the neighbor's rooster). The question is, can we actually function on an annual sleep cycle rather than just a daily sleep cycle? Can we store up sleep during those long dark days of winter and use it when there is so much more to do at, oh say, 3:00 AM in June (like going fishing or climbing to a nearby summit for a zen view of the sunrise)?


Green Foliage View (2005-05-03 22:32:05)

As a point of reference, here is an image taken at 5PM this afternoon, May 3rd, showing the same view as the but with the better quality of a digital SLR camera (Olympus E-10).

Longer Days (web cam view) (2005-05-08 09:25:27)

With nearly 17 hours of there's still plenty of light for outdoor activities at 10:30 PM on May 7th (compare to April 29,2005).

And there's light in sky at 4:27AM on May 8, 2005, Mother's Day (compare to May 2, 2005).

8 MAY 2005............SUNRISE 531 AM SUNSET 1025 PM
[source: National Weather Service]

Day length at latitude 61.65 (Palmer, Alaska) (2005-05-09 00:26:05)

Rapid day length increases continue! Still light in sky at 11 PM on May 8th. For a peak at how the day length looks at latitude 61 (Palmer) in Alaska on the solstice, check out our summer solstice archive from 2001. For more general information, see Wikipedia listing.

Sunset at 10:30PM May 10th (2005-05-11 09:26:14)

*** Remember the weird thing is that we're two hours off sun time -- the darkest hour of the night is closer to 2:00 AM than to midnight ***

11 MAY 2005...........SUNRISE 523 AM SUNSET 1032 PM
[source: National Weather Service]

Change in Weather (2005-05-11 22:19:22)

Photo taken 5/11/05 from the summit of Lazy Mountain.

Lazy Mountain is in the web cam image, more visible in the winter when there are no leaves on the trees. It is about 3800 feet tall (the tall mountain in the web cam image is Matanuska Peak which is over 6000 feet high).

Ben reports the trail to the top of Lazy is generally dry with only one snow crossing left. This photo is facing south, looking across the Knik River Valley and shows the high altitude lenticular clouds which seem to be at the leading edge of a front that's moving through.


Web Cam image at dusk (10:37PM May 16, 2005) (2005-05-16 23:44:46)

With a gain of about 5 minutes of daylight a day, dusk and (near) darkness comes later each night.

Mixing Weather and Thunderheads (5/17/05) (2005-05-17 23:20:34)

This morning it was overcast and cold but by mid-day a chill breeze blew beneath a partially clear sky. Ominous dark thunderheads piled up along the mountains and miniature 'baby' cumulus clouds floated across the valley. The forests and open land (vegetated open land, not gravel pits or pre-subdivision cleared land) retain heat and are becoming darker green, the color of summer.



Some light at midnight (sun time) on May 20 (2005-05-20 23:13:21)

Depending on the resolution of your monitor you may see a tiny bit of paler sky near the top left of this image. (Remember we're two hours off sun time so 1:58 AM is the same as 2 minutes to midnight, sun time.) The web cam is capturing the 2:00 AM (midnight 'sun time') image each night so take a look at it now in the web cam archive.

More than just 'light in the sky' at 11:27 PM May 24, 2005 (2005-05-25 09:20:05)

Web cam image documents daylight at 11:27 PM, enough daylight to do things outside, if one was so inclined.

summer came late in 2006 (2006-06-04 23:40:54)

May 19, 2006
Where are the green leaves?

May 19, 2005 - Green leaves and blooming trees.

Note: By May 29, 2006 the leaves were at about the same stage as on May 19, 2005.

Check the web cam archives to compare more days in 2005 and 2006.

pollinating apple trees (2006-06-04 23:43:56)

May 29, 2006. The ladder is holding up a bouquet of crabapple blossoms from the south side of the valley to pollinate the Chinese golden apple tree that is espaliered up the house just to the left of the ladder.

Check the web cam archives to compare more days in 2005 and 2006.

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